Trump’s stance on LGBT order stuns religious liberty advocates

Religious Liberty | The president plans to keep a controversial Obama administration rule
by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/31/17, 03:46 pm

WASHINGTON—The White House confirmed today President Donald Trump will not overturn the Obama administration’s 2014 LGBT executive order for federal contractors that limits how religious groups that do not approve of homosexuality can work in government.

“The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression,” according to a White House statement released early this morning. “The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

President Barack Obama signed the order in the summer of 2014 and received praise from progressives and LGBT supporters. The order told all federal contractors they could not consider sexuality and gender identity when making hiring decisions. Obama packaged it as an anti-discrimination order, but the action forced those with Biblical beliefs on gender and sexuality either to violate their consciences or forgo their federal contracts. The Trump administration’s decision to keep it did not sit well with religious liberty advocates.

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last summer that would have circumvented Obama’s order and allowed faith-based ministries to serve the Defense Department without violating their beliefs.

But Russell’s amendment lacked support to make it into the final version of the spending bill.

Russell told me in November that wasn’t a total loss because he had “positive signs” from Trump’s transition team that they would work with him to get rid of the executive order after Inauguration Day.

Today’s announcement was a reversal of those positive signs.

“I cannot understand why the president would prevent people of faith to continue to contract with the military,” Russell said in an emailed statement.

Last year, Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, was one of the strongest proponents of Russell’s amendment. Crews previously spent 28 years as an Army chaplain and said men and women in uniform depend on ministries to serve them through federal contracts.

Crews told me today the White House announcement was the exact opposite of what he expected from the Trump administration.

“This is like a kick in the gut,” Crews said. “I was assured this would be taken care of.”

In December, Crews had a meeting with several senior members of Congress who told him lawmakers wouldn’t need to draft legislation on the matter because Trump’s transition team would overturn the executive order.

Crews said he never had a guarantee from Trump’s staff directly, but he gave the transition team a briefing on why they needed to overturn the executive order—which garnered a positive response.

He added he would now begin contacting the lawmakers who gave him assurances and find out what they can do going forward.

LGBT supporters had a mixed reaction to the White House announcement.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said James Esseks, American Civil Liberties Union LGBT project director in a statement. “President Trump has surrounded himself with a vice president and Cabinet members who have repeatedly sought to sanction discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religion, and nothing in the White House’s statement makes clear that these efforts are behind us.”

Evan Wilt

Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.

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  •  Wilebo's picture
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 04:10 pm

    Trump ran as a populist president. He will do things to please and displease either side. Yes, it is a disappointment. But, we should not be taken aback. We need to continue to pray for those in authority.

  • Graced
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 04:18 pm

    I honestly don't know why they would be stunned. 


  • JerryM
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 05:43 pm

    We should all be against the violence and oppression of all people.  The concern is that religiously-based opposition to any particular lifestyle is viewed as a form of oppression.  Do Trumps actions here suggest he does view this opposition as oppression?

  •  austinbeartux's picture
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 05:56 pm

    Just being open, honest and transparent here. . .

    Trump was literally my 16th pick in the Republican Primary.  However, I must admit I've been generally impressed at his Executive Orders and nominees for various agencies.  And I'll probably be impressed at his Supreme Court pick in a few hours.  But we're only 11 days into his Presidency, and we're seeing what it's like to have someone who doesn't seem to act like a Christian.  This is the predictable bad fruit.

  • stephenc
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 06:35 pm

    Got to echo most of the other comments here - I'm sitting here having a hard time suppressing genuine amusement that anyone - ANYONE - is "stun[ned]" by this.

    I mean, the man thought it was pronounced "Two Corinthians".

    *grinning, hugely, even though I know I shouldn't be*

  • PaulC
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 09:47 pm

    Donald Trump is not the first person that I have heard refer to a Bible book with two volumes under the same name (1 & 2 Corinthians for example) call it two Corinthians.  I think that is a European usage.  Can anyone confirm this?  Yes Trump lives in the US, but he has had much more European contact than most of us.  He still needs a personal knowledge of Jesus, and a personal knowledge of the contents of the book.  Don't stop praying for him, his family, his cabinet, advisors etc. Ask for their salvation, and for wisdom from above to fulfill their responsibilities. Our elected leaders  need our prayers.  Christians are urged to remember them in our prayers, 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

  • Laura W
    Posted: Tue, 01/31/2017 10:08 pm

    Agree. I've recently heard a few speakers say it that way in recorded messages. I think most or all of them were from other countries, so it does seem to be a geographical difference in usage.

  • hrh
    Posted: Wed, 02/01/2017 01:22 pm

    This. And his mother, who seems to have been his biggest religious influence, is from Scotland, so if that's the way she referred to Corinthians then Trump would have picked that up.

    No, I'm not typing this because I have any illusions that Trump is a Bible scholar or even a regular Bible reader. But only to comment that it says more about those who continue to mock Trump as a Biblical ignoramus because of "Two Corinthians" than it does about Trump's Biblical (or lack of ) knowledge.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/01/2017 09:05 am

    The whole protect "the community from violence and oppression" is a ruse, since the executive order is about hiring. Violence and oppression in the workforce is already disallowed.  So it is obvious that this is really about poking religious mores in the eye.  That is what progressivism has come to mean.

  • Jebby
    Posted: Thu, 02/02/2017 10:21 am


  • CarolinaDave's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/01/2017 11:31 am

    @PaulC:  Having lived in several British Commonwealth countries, I am quite familiar with hearing "Two Corinthians."  That should not be a big conern.

    As for this position he has taken, I am reminded of the addage: "Why should we expect non Christians to act like Christians?"

    I am disappointed by his position on this issue but am very pleased with the choice he has made for a SCOTUS nomination.  I pray for him daily, as should we all.

  • Sawgunner's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/01/2017 02:44 pm

    If you all thought Trumpy would overturn any LGBT promulgations from OBama you might wanna change out the bong water. File this story under M for "Meet the New Boss same as the Old Boss" at least far as govt mandated homosexual acceptance or else fiats

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Thu, 02/02/2017 02:01 am

    Trump made his position clear on the issue of homosexuality a while ago.  We should continue to pray for him and be grateful just how supportive he has been on many Christian issues.  The homosexual issue needs to be addressed in the future when we do have a Christian in the office willing to take the issue on.